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Bulmer’s Fruit Bat: Why is it Endangered?

Bulmer’s fruit bat is a mammal that eats whatever it can find, like insects or fruit. These bats live in mountainous regions and they like to roost in caves. They are the world’s largest cave-roosting bats, with some bats reaching 1.7 feet (0.5 meters) and weighing 40 grams (1.4 ounces). Now because of pollution and other damages, bulmer’s fruit bat is placed on the list of endangered species.

  • Status: Critically endangered 
  • Known as: Bulmer’s Fruit Bat, Megabat.
  • Estimated numbers left in the wild: 160.

What is the Bulmer’s Fruit Bat?

Bats Flying During Sunset

The little brown fruit bat is a tiny, brown creature that measures about 11 inches from head to tail but is in fact one of the largest bat species on the planet. It’s the only member of its species that exists today, having survived a lineage that dates back to the Oligocene and weighing 600 grams.

One of its most unique features is that it has no fur on its back – each wing membrane extends up over its shoulder to the spine, where the membranes meet. These bats have a 1-meter wingspan and range from an umber color to completely black. They smell intensely of musk.

Fascinatingly, Bulmer’s fruit bat is among the world’s most maneuverable bats, able to hover in place like a hummingbird or even fly in reverse. It is perhaps this airborne agility that allows it to roost in caves despite its large size – they are the world’s largest cave-roosting bats.

The bat species often known as mountain bats live in rocky areas with medium-height forests and chilly temperatures, which offer the sorts of fruit they like, such as figs.

They emerge only after it is completely dark, and they are prepared to fly 30 or 40 kilometers to their food sources, returning to their roost before sunrise.

These bats are known to be a cave dweller and there is only a single cave in Papua New Guinea there they are known to be found.

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Fruit Bat Staring at Fruit
Source: Shutterstock

The fruit bats of the Bulmer family are unusual in that they demonstrate intriguingly cooperative behavior, such as avoiding humans. When it’s time to fly to the feeding grounds, several scouts emerge from the cave and criss-cross the area around the entrance, seeking for human presence.

They give a steady series of birdlike calls while scouting, apparently to inform the bats in the cave of the situation. If there are humans, the bats will remain in their cave for hours, waiting for the intruders to depart. These bats are bird like and have been known to be a part of the flying fox family.

Another interesting adaptational characteristic of bulmer’s fruit bat is its ability to fly backwards.

This unique ability could be explained by evolutionary pressure for this species to evade bird predators that can attack from behind, however little research has been published about the bulmer’s fruit bat’s ability to fly backwards.

This has piqued the public’s interest in bulmer’s fruit bats, their predators, and where they dwell even more. Knowing where bats live is critical since it might help us understand the dangers these creatures face.

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Females first become pregnant at three years of age and carry their babies with them to the feeding grounds for several weeks until the young bats become too large and heavy to carry.

They only known roost of this species is an enormous vertically positioned cave located near a 2,400-meter escarpment. Its surroundings are thick with mossy montane firs and pines.

Lifespan of a Fruit Bat

The bulmer’s fruit bat lives approximately 15-18 years in the wild, but can live much longer in captivity.

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Bulmer’s fruit bat is found only in New Guinea. These bats live in mountainous terrain, and in fact, are known to live only in one cave, known locally as Luplupwintem in the western Hindenburg range of Papua New Guinea.

There may also be populations in the island’s isolated mountain regions.

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Fruit Bats Flying

The bulmer’s fruit bat is one of the most endangered species on the planet and is most vulnerable to hunting for food and the destruction of fruit trees.

Conservation efforts are being made to save this bat, which is one of its biggest threats. It is also in danger from the loss of fruit trees.


This unique and distinctive fruit bat was nearly wiped out in the 1970s by hunters supplying meat to mining operations in the area.

Large numbers of bats were blasted off the walls with shotguns, leading to the species’ near-extinction – the second since the end of the Pleistocene ice age.

Recovery has been extremely prolonged the bats are still being shot or trapped for food.

Destruction of fruit trees in the area is another menace to the bats’ survival.

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Conservation efforts

There are currently no conservation efforts underway to save the Bulmer’s fruit bat, nor are any planned for the near future.

These are bats are completely vulnerable and unassisted and could easily be wiped out at any time. They are no longer a threatened species and are now a critically endangered species.

The future of the Bulmer’s fruit bat colony

Flying Foxes at Sunset

Nobody knows why the numbers of this uncommon Fruit bat plummeted to 10,000 years ago or why the genus vanished in the 1970s. One popular accepted hypothesis is that a nearby mine drove the bats away, allowing locals with money to purchase rifle bullets as a result of the global financial crisis.

But for David’s future, this bat appears hopeful, suggesting that larger unknown colonies may be hidden underground in Papua New Guinea’s woods behind the isolation that the creatures maintain.

There are presently no deliberate conservation measures in place, but we can hope that this bat will live for many years to come.

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There are several environmental organizations that assist large fruit bats such as WWF. They also work to save other species, such as tigers, snow leopards, and other fruit bats.

WWF strives to educate the public about the necessity of conservation for all species on Earth. Their aim is to stop habitat devastation so that wildlife may thrive in their natural habitats.

Do you know of or are you a part of an organization that works to conserve the Bulmer’s Fruit Bat?

Then please contact us to have it featured on Our Endangered World.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is bulmer’s fruit bat?

Bulmer’s fruit bat is a rare and an endangered mammal that lives in the high mountains of the South Pacific. It is the world’s largest cave-dwelling animal, feeds predominantly on figs and moves very quickly. The bulmers’ fruit bat is threatened by destruction of its habitat, hunting for food and pollution from mining activity.

How did bulmers’ fruit bats become endangered?

Bulmer’s fruit bats are threatened by hunting for food, destruction of fruit trees and deforestation.
The fruit bats of Bulmer are thought to have originated in Pakistan, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Northern India before being introduced to Papua New Guinea, where they are now endangered.

Why is the bulmer’s fruit bat endangered?

The bulmer’s fruit bat is endangered because of a deteriorating habitat of fruit trees. The bulmer’s fruit bat eats tons of fruit and usually roosts in caves near water sources.

What are bulmer’s fruit bats threatened by?

Bulmer’s fruit bat has some natural predators, namely birds that can take them on while they are searching for fruit. It is also threatened by hunting for food and destruction of fruit trees.

Why are bulmer’s fruit bats not being conserved yet?

It’s hard to conserve bulmer’s fruit bats because they live high in mountains. It is safe but it can also be dangerous in the wrong conditions. They need trees with leaves that bear fruits. But there are a lot of different types of trees in the world where they are threatened by being hunted for food and destroyed by humans.

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